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Know Hyacinth as well as Snoop Dog does? The KUA Trivia Challenge

October 13, 2009

Think you know Hyacinth and KUA as well as one of the show’s most recent self-confessed fan? If so, it’s time to test your knowledge of one of the most loved British comedy characters of all time, Hyacinth Bucket (It’s Bouquet…..). Answer the 20 questions below and E-MAIL your answers to tellyspotting@kera.org. Because 21st century trivia quizzes fall victim to iPhones, Blackberrys and the internet, in general, all entries with the most correct answers will be placed in a drawing for an autographed photo of Patricia Routledge. If interested, let me know and we’ll do this once a month for some “absolutely fabulous” prizes.

1.  What street do Richard and Hyacinth live on?

2.  Daisy and Onslow have both a daughter and a grandaughter. What are their names?

3.  What is the postman’s first name (mentioned only once in the series)?

4.  What does the “FH” on Onslow’s hat stand for?

5.  What is the name of the Chinese take-away that people are always mistakenly calling for on Hyacinth’s slimline telephone?

6.  Invitations to Hyacinth’s candlelight suppers always measure the same? What are the measurements?

7.  What is Richard and Hyacinth son’s name? What’s his friends name?

8.  Hyacinth tries in vain to get Richard a new job with a frozen food company. What is the name of the company?

9.  What was Emmet wearing when Hyacinth first saw him at next door neighbor, Elizabeth’s house?

10.  What did Hyacinth buy Richard for his birthday?

11.  What is the distinguishing pattern on Hyacinth’s Royal Doulton china?

12.  What does Hyacinth ask each person that enters her house to do?

13.  Emmet and Elizabeth are related. How?

14.  Hyacinth’s new security system was installed. What date was chosen as the password?

15.  Who was arrested for taking illicit video footage in the park?

16.  Onslow and Daisy win a trip. What did they win?

17.  What color did Hyacinth choose for her kitchen?

18.  The writer of Keeping Up Appearances wrote two other major series for the BBC. What were they?

19.  Josephine Tewson (Elizabeth) has a cousin that was also a famous British comedy star? Who?

20.  Josephine Tewson (Elizabeth) was married, and divorced, to another famous British comedy star?

Don’t forget, e-mail your answers to tellyspotting@kera.org. Entries must be received by midnight, Monday, October 19, to be eligible for the drawing. Winner will be contacted via return e-mail. As Wayne Gretzky says, “You can’t score if you don’t shoot”.

Red Dwarf 'Carbug' up for auction

October 13, 2009

If you’re in the mood for a slightly used one-of-a-kind auto that proudly boasts the ability to go from ‘naught-60′ in three weeks (Top Gear here we come) and does have a television credit, the customized 1999 Smart Car from the Red Dwarf: Back to Earth series goes up for auction on October 29. Good news – it runs and is drivable. Bad news – it’s not road legal without modifications. Remember not to make any noticeable movement unless you’re willing to bid. Any takers?

Only Fools & Horses begin filming 'prequel'

October 11, 2009

Definitely not as “interesting” as Anthony Perkins playing his own mother in Psycho, but it must be equally as challenging to play your own father. That’s what Nicholas Lyndhurst is set to do when he brings Rodney’s father, Freddie ‘The Frog’ Robdal, to life as filming begins on the much-anticipated ‘prequel’ to Only Fools and Horses. Long considered the most popular British comedy in the U.K., the one-off 90-minute special is set in 1960 and stars James Buckley (The Inbetweeners) in the lead role as a young Del Boy Trotter, the character made famous for nearly 30 years by David Jason and 8 years before Buckley was born.

Early photos from the set during the first few days of filming.

OFAH prequel 2

Going by the working title of Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Chips, the prequel was written by John Sullivan, creator of the original Only Fools and Horses. Check out more photos, etc. from the early days of filming courtesy of The Daily Mail. Cheers!

OMG! Monty Python in the KERA studios!…well, actually, in 1975.

October 10, 2009

A mere 24 hours after an unknown film with no distributor called Monty Python and the Holy Grail premiered in Los Angeles, four of the Monty Python troupe appeared at the KERA-TV studios in Dallas in 1975. The following video was discovered on a former KERA broadcast engineer’s “save” reel where it had gone unnoticed for a number of years. Unfortunately, the tape cuts out just as Terry Jones reveals the original title of the Flying Circus.  Thanks to Jesse Thorn, producer of The Sound of Young America for National Public Radio who introduces this classic from almost 35 years ago. Gotta love those 70′s fashions and hairstyles….

Monty Python Invades America – 1974

October 9, 2009

Fast forward five years. It’s 1974. The average home price – just under $11,000.  A gallon of gas – 55 cents. Average new car price just under $4,000. Oh, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 616! Richard Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to resign after the Watergate scandal. Lucy the skeleton was named, popular films were The Exorcist and The Sting.

A year like any other year, right? Not a chance. THIS was the year Monty Python’s Flying Circus invaded America. KERA-TV, the public television station in Dallas, was the first station in the country to broadcast this unknown program on a Sunday evening in the Fall of 1974 to a very unsuspecting, post-Masterpiece Theatre audience. Almost instantly, the Monty Python’s Flying Circus phenomenon was born.

The Python Effect on a young 13-year old Dallasite

I discovered Monty Python on a lazy weekend afternoon. I recently turned 13, and had never heard of the British comedy troupe before. As luck would have it, I turned the channel (this is back when TVs had turn dials) to a KERA broadcast of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I came in just as the Black Knight sketch began, and by the second appendage severing I was hooked. I had never seen anything so comically risky, over-the-top bloody, and flat-out funny. By the time the Knights of Ni showed up, I realized this was the greatest comedy of all time. Nearly 30 years later, I’m not sure I disagree with my initial assessment.

Since then, my love of Monty Python expanded to include their other films and, of course, their TV series. KERA’s Sunday night broadcast of Monty Python’s Flying Circus was an important part of my week, and I rarely missed watching the show. Later I learned that KERA was the first U.S. station to broadcast Monty Python, which is a source of pride: We got it — literally and figuratively — when no one else in the country did.

So THANK YOU KERA for the best British import since the Beatles. And thank you for showing a 13-year-old boy there is comedy beyond Hanna Barbera.

Yours in Pythondom,

Kirk Baird, pop culture editor/film critic for the Toledo Blade in Toledo, OH, who was born and raised in Dallas and remains a longtime fan of KERA.

For more pop culture, check out Kirk’s blog, Culture Shock in the Toledo Blade.

There are 1000′s of stories in the naked city from viewers who “discovered” the group that, I believe, have had the greatest influence on shaping the future of television comedy, much like the Beatles shaped music from that time forward.

If you have a Python story or experience like Kirk, please share. Don’t forget to tune in Saturday at 7:00pm for the world premiere of Monty Python Before and After and then pop on over to Trinity Hall at Mockingbird Station on Sunday evening at 7:00pm for a very special edition of the Pub Quiz Trivia with KERA.

Celebrate 35 years of British comedy in the U.S.!

October 9, 2009

Stay up all night with KERA, Saturday, October 10 from 7p-5a (yes, that’s 5:00am) as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the beginning of British comedy in the United States and then challenge your brain at Trinity Hall, Mockingbird Station on Sunday, October 11 at 7:00p for a special edition of their ever popular Pub Trivia Quiz Night.

Monty Python Before and After – Saturday at 7:00pm on KERA

Produced by Python Pictures, the world premiere of this never-before-seen documentary chronicles the history of the Pythons from their earliest meeting at Oxford and Cambridge through their 1975 assault on America and beyond. At 10p, its’ more Python madness and then 12mid-5a we celebrate British comedy, thanks to all those that voted in the “favorite Britcom” poll. For those of you keeping score at home, the winners were Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Are You Being Served, Keeping Up Appearances, Coupling, As Time Goes By, Vicar of Dibley and Father Ted.

Join us at Trinity Hall, Mockingbird Station, Sunday, Oct 11 at 7:00pm!

Trinity Hall

Get some rest, pace yourself, eat plenty of chocolate and drink lots of coffee so that you can end your week of Britcom celebration at Trinity Hall during their Sunday evening Pub Quiz Trivia contest. Sunday, October 11, KERA is partnering with our good friends over at Trinity Hall for Trivia Night. For those of you that have experienced this before, you know its an event not to be missed. Be there no later than 7:00p on Sunday to register your team and show off your knowledge of all things British, including a special round of Monty Python trivia with fabulous prizes. So, see you on the telly Saturday and at Trinity Hall on Sunday. Cheers!

MI5 vs 24 – Smackdown!

October 8, 2009

I have to open this debate to everyone since three people, TODAY alone, described MI5 (Spooks in the UK) as the British 24. I couldn’t form words fast enough to verbalize a laundry list of reasons as to why there is no comparison between the two. MI5 is, without question IMHO, one of the best shows on television, if not the best. MI5 out-distances 24 in writing, acting, storyline, believability, editing, use of music and more.

Jack Bauer won’t  (or can’t) die

The fact that you watch every episode of 24 knowing full well that Jack Bauer won’t die no matter what happens is enough to place it well below the realistic nature of MI5. 24‘s only “bit” is that each season takes place in 24 hours. Having seen through season 7 of MI5, I’ve often wondered why the writers have never shied away from killing off characters or banishing them to Siberia, both major and minor, during a season. I finally came to the conclusion that as frustrating and as mind-numbing as it is to invest emotional effort into the characters only to have them “disappear” or actually die by an assassin’s bullet or explosion adds the realism that is lacking in 24.

It’s tough enough for any series to last 8 seasons (as both MI5 and 24 have). With MI5, it has to be a brain rush to write a series of this nature that gives you the freedom to be real, to be fresh and also keep the audience as tense as humanly possible with every explosion or every bullet leaving the chamber because we truly don’t know who is coming back each week. On 24, Jack Bauer always heals by the next week (or next hour since it all takes place in 24 hours).

Talk me down from the ledge

Tell me there are others out there that can’t wait for the next episode of MI5. Or, if you’re a 24 fan, it’s your turn. I’m willing to listen. Well, sort of. You have 23:59:45.

Pythons reunite for BAFTA award

October 7, 2009


As we continue to pay tribute to the true beginning of television comedy as we know it (or think we know it), the Pythons will reunite in New York on October 15 to receive a BAFTA award. Let’s hope that Graham Chapman gets a little bit better treatment this time than he did during the last reunion in Aspen.

Basil Fawlty earns an "A" in the Science of Great Comedy

October 6, 2009

Fawlty Towers has to be the greatest 12 episodes of comedy ever. The UK version of The Office is a close second (much better, I think, than the American version, but that’s a debate for another day). This is a re-write of an article I did several years ago, but bears repeating as we begin to dissect and talk about British television in the coming months. This is a long one folks so prepare to think about what you laugh about.

In 2000, the British Film Institute selected Fawlty Towers as the best British television show. After a year-long poll looking for Britain’s Best Sitcom, the BBC announced in mid-2005 that Fawlty Towers ranked as the fifth best sitcom of all time by British viewers. A huge feat considering there were only 12 episodes.

Fawlty Towers hotel

Even Fawlty Towers, the hotel itself, was voted #1 in a poll conducted by Hotels.com to determine the all-time most memorable screen hotel. It outdistanced other such “hotels from hell” as the Bates Motel from Psycho and The Overlook Hotel which provided a winter home for Jack Nicholson and family in The Shining.

Such polls are a measure of the enduring popularity of a show, but how does one measure what makes a great comedy, well, great?

The perfect formula for classic comedy: [(R x D + V) x F + S]/A

Perhaps you’ve heard it before that sitcoms are too formulaic. But, have you ever taken the time to actually consider what is the perfect formula for a classic comedy? What makes some Britcoms fail to make the grade and never get passed the first season, while others are timeless treasures that make us laugh year after year? Is there actually a science to all the laughter?

Dr. Helen Pilcher, a British molecular neurobiologist by day and stand-up comic by night, set out several years ago to answer all of the above in a study commissioned by UKTV Gold, the satellite channel in the UK known as the home for classic Britcoms. Pilcher and her team of research scientists analyzed almost two decades’ worth of British comedies and actually came up with a mathematical expression for success – and failure.

It’s quite simple. A Britcom is a success if it scores high marks when applied to the following formula: [(R x D + V) x F + S]/A

Where’s the simple part, your asking?  Pilcher explains:

“Comedic value is determined by multiplying the recognizability of the main character (R) by their delusions of grandeur (D). This is added to the verbal wit of the script (V), and the total is multiplied by the amount someone falls over or suffers a physical injury (F). The difference in social status between the highest – and lowest – ranking characters (S) is added. Finally, the total is divided by the success of any scheme or stratagem in the show (A). Each term in the formula is assigned a value up to a maximum of 10 people to give an overall scientific score.”

See how simple it is?

From theory to practice, ‘Orrible was horrible

To actually put this formula into play, Dr. Pilcher established a baseline which, hopefully, no comedy would score lower than. One BBC show from 2001, ‘Orrible, came dreadfully close to achieving the lowest score among those tested. The bottom score was a pitiful 6.5.

After lengthy research, the long-running classic, Only Fools and Horses was voted No. 1 with a score of 696. At No. 2, a relative newcomer to the British comedy scene at that time was The Office, which finished with a 678 score.

Not to be outdone after 30 years of making people laugh in more than 60 countries, everyone’s favorite irascible hotelier, Basil Fawlty, and Fawlty Towers came in at No. 3. Another perennial favorite amongst Britcom fans, Blackadder, came in at No. 4.

So…next time you sit down and watch a new entry into the Britcom line-up, try thinking of [(R x D + V) x F + S]/A and be your very own network television Head of Light Entertainment and give it a thumbs up or down.

When you watch Fawlty Towers, make note of just how much “D” Basil has to go along with his perceived “S” and then marvel at all of the “F” and “V”!

Gervais, Top Gear host recall favorite Python bits…

October 5, 2009

Celebrate Monty Python Day (October 5, 1969) with the BBC as Ricky Gervais, Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson, Stephen Merchant (co-writer, The Office) and Justin Lee Collins share their favorite bits.  Check it out here…BBC.  Ok, it’s self-declared as Monty Python Day, but I can do that, I think.  Dare you to Silly Walk down Main Street wherever you are.